Burdekin graziers profit from Grazing Best Management Practices program

Increasing international demand for high-quality beef means that the northern Australian beef industry can – and should have – a bright future.

That’s the view of beef producer Simone Howard, of  Woontonvale, near Guthalungra, awarded accredited producer status after completing a Grazing BMP audit with NQ Dry Tropics in Feburary.  Mrs Howard said a key strength of the beef industry was its disease free, clean, green image.

“Showcasing good practices and sustainability is becoming more important to meet changing expectations of our consumers, and one of the best ways we can do that is through the Grazing BMP program,” Mrs Howard said.

“Being Grazing BMP accredited also provides an opportunity to educate our consumers about how we run our business. The majority of graziers are committed to best practice and are keen to present a real and accurate picture of grazing to the public,” she said. 

Grazing BMP assists producers to improve their long term productivity, profitability and sustainability in the areas of grazing land management, soil health, animal health and welfare, animal production, and people and business.

“Going through the audit process enabled us to do a ‘health check up’ on our business. It reminded us to keep sight of the holistic view of the business, and the symbiotic relationship between us and our land,” Mrs Howard said.

“We also wanted to teach the next generation custodians about how and why it’s important to manage our land sustainably, and that we’re all held accountable to do that.  

“We have young staff, and four children aged between 17 and 22, they’re young generation graziers.  They’re passionate, motivated and skilled, and Grazing BMP teaches them how to benchmark business against best industry standards,” she said.

Grazier Alby Flood, of Junction Creek, has also been awarded accredited producer status, said the process put the spotlight on the whole business.

“To be honest we weren’t that keen at first, but I am very glad we have done it now,” Mr Flood said.

“The audit required us to refine our systems and processes and we are confident that we have put our business in the best possible position going forward to meet whatever challenges we face – be it biosecurity, WHS or Animal Health and Welfare,” he said.

NQ Dry Tropics Grazing BMP Coordinator Lisa Hutchinson said she had received positive feedback from participants about the value of Grazing BMP to their businesses, both in relation to content and the unique opportunity for networking with other graziers.

“Proactive and innovative land managers are taking stewardship of their natural resources and ultimately building resilience and profitability into their businesses,” Ms Hutchinson said.

“The ongoing assistance of the Queensland Government demonstrates the strength of the program, and enables delivery partners to continue to support industry to undertake and maintain best-practice standards to minimise the impact of agriculture on the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.

Simone Howard and her husband Mark, intend to conduct Grazing BMP audits on their two properties located in the Fitzroy Basin later this year.  They were one of five grazing enterprises to complete Grazing BMP in the Burdekin region through NQ Dry Tropics this month.

The other enterprises audited include Alby and Kate Flood, of Junction Creek, Charters Towers, John and Verna Webb, of Merricourt, Charters Towers, Ross and Mardi Webb, of The Bluff, Charters Towers, and Gerard and Elizabeth Lyons, of Four Mile, Woodstock.

The Grazing BMP program has been developed ‘by industry for industry’ in partnership between AgForce, Fitzroy Basin Association and Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and is funded by the Department Environment Heritage Protection, recently renamed as Department of Environment and Science.

Grazing BMP is delivered in the Burdekin by NQ Dry Tropics, DAF and AgForce through one-on-one property visits, workshops and online.